Post-Its are Silver

Post-it notes were always among my favorite things to swipe from office jobs (along with those big black pinchy binder clips). They were great for a million things – bookmarks, to-do lists, roommate communications. I mostly find them annoying now – they’re not quite sticky enough to stay put, but then again they seem to attach themselves where I don’t want them to attach, which means they get lost. (As I type this, I realize that if I were organized person, I’d probably still be making good use of them. Alas, no, not my forte.)

I’m still drawn to them though, as being organized is an ongoing aspiration of mine. My drawer at the gallery is full of Post-its in different sizes and colors, and if I see them, or imitations of them, at the end-of-the-aisle bargain bins at Target I invariably pick them up. In fact I used a dorky flower shaped one to include a little love note to my landlord with a check I was mailing the other day.(Because I am professional like that.)

I’m sure this is all terribly fascinating to you, isn’t it? Perhaps I should just get to the point – Post-its are twenty-five (and remembering when they were new makes me feel a little old.) Greg Beato ‘s article Twenty-Five Years of Post-it Notes, in Minneapolis monthly The Rake, chronicles their invention and posits (heh) that they “prefigured email, hypertext and the digital revolution.”

Two and a half decades later, as the little yellow notes celebrate their silver anniversary, it’s easy to forget what a recent innovation they are. Thanks to their material simplicity, they seem more closely related to workplace antiquities like the stapler and the hole-punch than integrated chips. Instead, they’re an exemplary product of their time. Foreshadowing the web, they offered an easy way to link one piece of information to another in a precisely contextual way. Foreshadowing email, they made informal, asynchronous communication with your co-workers a major part of modern office life.